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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona uses well-balanced offense to jump past Aztecs

    UA forward Jordan Hill shoots over San Diego State forward Billy White during the No. 19 Wildcats 74-58 win over the Aztecs Saturday in McKale Center. Hill tied a team-high with 15 points for a balanced Arizona offense that featured four players in double figures.
    UA forward Jordan Hill shoots over San Diego State forward Billy White during the No. 19 Wildcats’ 74-58 win over the Aztecs Saturday in McKale Center. Hill tied a team-high with 15 points for a balanced Arizona offense that featured four players in double figures.

    No. 19 Arizona 74, San Diego State 58

    At the beginning of the season, the Arizona men’s basketball team had two offensive go-to players in Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger. A couple weeks ago, Jordan Hill stepped into the equation.

    But on Saturday afternoon in McKale Center, the Wildcats (9-2) showed for the first time all season how well balanced they really are, as they beat San Diego State (9-3) 74-58 in the 23rd edition of the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

    Eight of nine Arizona players scored in the game, with four scoring in double figures and two more scoring six or more.

    “”We’re a great team,”” said Bayless, a freshman guard. “”A lot of people forget that we’re a team sometimes because we do have some very good individual players. But anyone can step it up any night. If we can do that consistently, we’re going to be a very good team.””

    Arizona shot 54.2 percent from the floor (32-for-59) and held SDSU to 32.2 percent (19-for-59). The Wildcats trailed for the first five minutes of the game, but the Aztecs stuck around clear into the second half. SDSU came within four, 36-32, on an ally-oop dunk by forward Lorenzo Wade 2:06 into the second half. But it was just two of Wade’s seven points in the game, as he was limited to three minutes in first half because of foul trouble.

    “”I take it as a challenge every game when they put me on their team’s best player,”” said McClellan, who had seven points, nine rebounds and seven assists and earned MVP honors for the game. “”He’s a good player. (UA assistant coach) Miles (Simon) told me before the game that it was going to be a challenge for me.

    “”He’s a big specimen, a very physical player,”” McClellan added of Wade. “”My teammates helped me take him out of the game. You can’t be a good player when you’re not on the court.””

    Limiting Wade’s play helped to contain an Aztec offense that came into the game as a very well-balanced system. Before the contest, three players averaged double digits in scoring – with Wade leading the team at 14.4 points per game – and three more averaged more than eight points.

    Bayless and Hill led Arizona’s attack with 15 points each, but Budinger (13) and guard Nic Wise (12) weren’t far behind.

    UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill said that with defenses geared toward stopping Budinger and Bayless, the two Wildcats must make the appropriate adjustments and that would come with time.

    There were 32 total personal fouls in the game, with 18 on the Arizona side, and the Wildcats showed their frustration in their body language. About six minutes into the second half, Bayless pulled the players on the court into a huddle and spoke to them briefly.

    The next play, Hill blocked a shot that caused a standing ovation and the Arizona crowd of 14,608 was the loudest it had been all day.

    “”That’s what I do,”” Hill said, smiling. “”I was upset at the refs, but I was keeping it on the low.””

    The Wildcats shot 48.1 percent (13-for-27) in the first half, despite a suffocating defense by the Aztecs, who were limited to 32 percent from the field (8-for-25).

    Arizona took its first lead 5:03 into the game on a trey by McClellan. The Wildcats never lost the lead and went up by as much as 12 in the first half, but couldn’t get rid of the Aztecs until late in the second half. SDSU ended the first half on an 8-2 run to go into the half down 32-26.

    “”I really liked how our team played aside from about four minutes in the first half,”” O’Neill said. “”I left some guys out there a little too long, so you can put that one on me. But for the most part I thought we played well.””

    And 1

    Budinger almost didn’t play after suffering from back spasms during Saturday morning’s shootaround.

    “”I was in the training room for hours just trying to get over this,”” Budinger said after the game with ice tapped to his back. “”I really didn’t know if I was going to be able to play. I kind of got loosened up and my adrenaline kind of took over.””

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